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Today we are really pleased to talk with bestselling author, Sarah Sundin
When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin – Review
When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin is a novel where readers will experience a range of emotions with an inspirational story. Woven into this historical novel’s pages are love, intrigue, mystery, and danger.
This suspenseful story focuses on the unfair laws and treatment of the Jewish population in Munich Germany in 1938 before the war began. Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession and to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. But she is assigned a fluff piece where she must interview Americans in Germany. Peter Lang is one of those Americans, a language professor at the University of Munich, doing a doctoral study on language learning. When Evelyn is assigned a story to interview Peter’s students, she finds herself intrigued by this professor and he in turn is completely taken with Evelyn.
But in the beginning they have polar opposite views. He is disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, losing his father to a beating by Communists, and impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. While Evelyn sees a police state and viciousness. After introducing Peter to her friend Herr Gold, a Jewish café owner whose baked goods are delicious, he witnesses the Nazi brutality. Peter realizes there are tragedies happening right under his nose, the persecution laws of Jewish businesses and the destruction of Jewish Synagogues. Everything changes after the real-life events of Kristallnacht, when the story becomes an adventure tale as the hero and heroine try to outwit their enemies and escape the German nightmare.
Readers will feel not only the danger and injustice, but all the helplessness. This book resonates long after the final page is turned. It was fascinating to see the build-up to the war from the perspective of American citizens who were residing in Nazi Germany.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?
Sarah Sundin: It was inspired by my grandfather’s story who studied the German language in 1936 Germany. He was a professor there. I was struck on how an American living and studying in Nazi Germany would feel. After doing some research, I found that thousands of Americans there had one of two opinions: either they were horrified seeing the oppression of the Jews like my heroine Evelyn, or saw Germany prospering while the rest of the world faced unrest and an economic depression like Peter.
EC: You have a quote in the book, “words matter.” For me, that is very important considering today Oregon crazily claims math is a racist subject. Can you comment?
Sarah: This is so untrue. My son is an engineer and as a former pharmacist it is the only subject studied where there is a right and wrong concrete answer, the beauty of math. The wonders of math allow for different conceptual ways of finding answers. No matter how one looks at it 2 + 2 = 4 as does 3 + 1. But the Nazis even tried to hijack this neutral subject by claiming there was Jewish math and Aryan math because so many mathematicians and scientists were Jewish. They threw out a lot of modern Physics and Chemistry.
EC: How would you describe Evelyn?
Sarah: Her nickname was Firebrand which basically describes her spunkiness, independence, and courageousness. She is intelligent, adventurous, bold, sometimes sarcastic, and does not follow the rules.
EC: How would you describe Peter?
Sarah: He is quiet, bright, compassionate, and likes rules/routines. Peter is kind, thorough, and a protector.
EC: How about the relationship?
Sarah: Peter is intrigued by Evelyn. They have a lot of banter and arguments. But as the relationship developed, they realized they can speak their mind. She keeps him at arms’ length because of barriers between them. They both become confused and tried to show restraint. The teasing dialogue was fun to right.
EC: What parts of the book were historically accurate?
Sarah: It is true that the Nazis tried to recruit Americans in Germany who thought like them. In the story they tried to coax Peter to help them develop spies. There were many correspondents like George Norwood who basically spread Nazi propaganda.
EC: Falsified passports?
Sarah: German Jews would do anything to escape the Nazi brutalities. I am not sure how many faked American passports. But remember America had a quota of allowing only 25,000 Germans and not just Jews, but all nationals. Even though throughout the 1930s the quota was never filled, Jews were still not let in. I tried to show this with the Gold Family and Evelyn who needed to escape.
EC: A woman journalist working in a male-dominated profession?
Sarah: Evelyn talks about how her dues are twice as much as a man’s. I put in this book quote, “If a man hunts down a lead, he’s called bold. I’m called pushy. If a man finds an unconventional way to get a story, he’s called clever. I’m scolded for breaking the rules.” I hope every woman who tries to succeed in a man’s world can relate to this quote. We see this in business today where a successful woman is considered brassy and pushy. I mention in the book two women correspondents who were in Germany, Dorothy Thompson and Sigrid Schultz.
EC: The Czechs during the Munich Pact?
Sarah: True. Hitler, Mussolini, French Premier Daladier, and Neville Chamberlain signed the pact in 1938. It virtually handed over Czechoslovakia to Germany in the name of peace. The Czech envoys, once arriving in Germany, were whisked off and locked up in a hotel room. The more I researched the more I think Chamberlain is a villain. He was not naïve as he was made out to be. When Daladier wanted to stand up to Hitler it was Chamberlain who would not back him up.
EC: What about your next book?
Sarah: It is also a standalone. It follows an American family living in Paris in 1941. This was a part of France that was occupied as opposed to Vichy France that was a puppet government. Hopefully, it will be out next year at this time.
In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party–to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can’t get off his mind.
This electric standalone novel from fan-favorite Sarah Sundin puts you right at the intersection of pulse-pounding suspense and heart-stopping romance.